Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Background: In the United States, currently about half (49%) of the 6.7 million pregnancies are reported as mistimed or unplanned, and this rate of unintended pregnancy is significantly higher than the rate in most other developed countries. Abortion services are critical to the prevention and management of unintended pregnancies. Abortion in the United States has been legal since the 1973; however this right has little meaning without access to safe abortion care and access is declining. Medication abortion, the use of medications to induce abortion and terminate an early pregnancy, has been legal in the United States since 2000, is ideal for the outpatient setting, and allows for increased provision of and access to abortion services. The literature assessing the provision of medication abortion has largely been conducted in populations of physicians, and combined groups of advanced practice clinicians including physician assistants (PAs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). No studies exist assessing provision of and barriers to medication abortion by NPs and CNMs (Advance Practice Registered Nurses or APRNs) in the state of Vermont.
Purpose: This study sought to fill this gap in the literature. Data was collected in order to determine whether APRNs are providing care to women at risk for unintended pregnancy and are providing medication abortion, the characteristics of these providers, and perceived barriers or supports to practice.
Methods: The design was a cross-sectional survey, using purposive sampling methods. Between July 2014 and September 2014, 21 eligible participants completed an anonymous, self-administered online survey, recruited via notifications sent out through professional listserv. The survey assessed their personal characteristics, beliefs and clinical practice related to reproductive health care and unintended pregnancy prevention and management. All participants had current APRN certification with prescriptive authority in the state of Vermont.
Results: Ninety percent of respondents reported care for women of reproductive age as at least one-third of their clinical work and 85% of respondents reported seeing women with unintended pregnancies as part of their practice. Eighty-five percent agreed or strongly agreed that medication abortions fall within the scope of practice of an APRN and of a primary care provider, and 85% would like to be trained to provide medication abortions to manage unintended pregnancy. Lack of training opportunities, clinical facility constraints, and legal uncertainties were the most frequently reported barriers to provision of medication abortion.
Conclusions: Many APRNs in Vermont may be interested in receiving medication abortion training. APRNs are experienced and highly trained health care professionals that have the competence and skills to provide comprehensive reproductive health care, including medication abortion. The perceived barriers of training, clinical facility constraints, and legal uncertainties are amenable to change, and can be decreased through inclusion of these topics into APRN education. The political and social climate of Vermont, combined with the findings of this preliminary study, suggest that the state of Vermont is ready, willing, and able to serve as a model for the primary provision of and improved population access to, comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion services.
Number of Pages
Lyons, Erica, "Provision Of Reproductive Health Care Services By Nurse Practitioners And Certified Nurse Midwives: Unintended Pregnancy Prevention And Management In Vermont" (2014). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 375.